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What are the five basic concepts of psychology?

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Quick Answer

Five major concepts used in psychology to explain human behavior are the biological, learning, cognitive, psychoanalytic and sociocultural perspectives. A majority of psychologists take an eclectic approach, using components of all five concepts to understand and address different human behaviors.

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The biological perspective of psychology holds that human behaviors, thoughts and feelings are products of physiological factors. For example, a biological psychologist may explain a violent behavior as being a result of a physical condition, such as a brain injury, brain tumor or other diseased state of the brain. This perspective emphasizes the notion that the mind and body interact with one another.

Meanwhile, psychologists who take a learning perspective see behaviors as being learned and the results of an individual's environmental influences. From a learning standpoint, people may behave violently because violent behavior has been rewarded in their pasts or because they have seen role models commit violent acts.

According to the cognitive perspective, behavior results from mental processes. A cognitive explanation for violent behavior may be that some people perceive certain situations in ways that are conducive to violence.

From a psychoanalytic perspective, unconscious motives and instincts dictate human behavior, such that violence can be seen as an acting out of the natural human instinct of aggression.

Lastly, the sociocultural perspective sees social and cultural forces as major motivators of behavior. Thus, violence is more prevalent in societies where violence is normalized.

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